Novak Djokovic supporters protest outside Melbourne hotel for a second day - in pictures

World No 1 is being held in a detention centre pending his appeal against deportation

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As rain pelted the crowd outside Novak Djokovic's detention centre in Melbourne, shouts of "free Novak" alternate with "free refugees" as fans stand alongside activists and anti-vaccine protesters.

The vaccine-sceptic tennis ace was placed in the centre earlier this week, his visa revoked for failing to meet Australia's tough pandemic entry restrictions.

In the crowd of about 50 people that gathered for a second day of protest Friday, some displayed larger-than-life posters of the nine-time Australian Open champion while others held anti-vaccine placards. A group called "Grandmothers for Refugees" voiced support for migrants detained by the government.

Draped in flags and playing nationalistic songs, some Serbians in the crowd celebrated Orthodox Christmas Day at the protest.

"There would obviously be a lot more people here if people did not have family obligations today," said Djokovic supporter Sash Aleksic.

"You know, a lot of people don't like him, and they have their right to not like him. But what's he really done? They reckon he's arrogant because what, because he wins?"

Aleksic shared the views of some anti-government protesters in the crowd who oppose Australia's Covid-19 policies.

"Our human rights have gone out the window ... and they [are] using the medical excuses."

One man held up an anti-vaccine poster that read: "Free the Novax legend".

It is unclear how long Djokovic - who has declared himself against vaccines and claimed to have an exemption - will be held at the Melbourne facility.

A court is set to hear his legal challenge against his visa cancellation on Monday.

Officially known as an "alternative place of detention", the facility is home to around 32 migrants who are trapped in Australia's hardline immigration system.

Detainees cannot leave and nobody is allowed in or out except staff.

The building, which was previously the Park Hotel, was graffitied with the slogan "free them all" by refugee supporters on Thursday night, when two people were arrested as police tried to clear the area.

A detainee had stuck up a sign reading "I am looking for my freedom" on one of the windows.

Updated: January 07, 2022, 12:19 PM
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